Follow along in this new article series exploring the author's experience on the path to becoming a Chopra Well-being Coach.
Read previous articles in the series:
Chopra Coaching: A Pathway for Conscious Living
Chopra Coaching: My Path Through the Enrichment Program
One short week after the completion of my Chopra Coaching Enrichment Program in June of 2021, I was poised to begin the Chopra Coaching Certification Program itself. In essence, the enrichment program had been a gentle warm-up, an on-ramp to the more robust certification program. During the final enrichment webinar, lead instructor Pete Kirchmer had compassionately cautioned us that the certification program contained a significantly larger amount of content than the first part of the program, and as it turns out, he wasn’t kidding.
"Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray." - Rumi
The certification program officially launched on June 21, 2021, with our first webinar which provided an overview of what we’d be studying over the next 12 weeks. Pete and Chopra Certifications Director Teresa Long welcomed and walked everyone through the format of the certification as well as providing a glimpse of what the final examination at the end of the training would entail.
Whereas the Coaching Enrichment Program focused heavily on the role of the coach and coaching tools, the certification program would be centered largely on the four Chopra Coaching Cornerstones of Purpose, Intention, Meaning, and Shadow.
Experience, Structure, and Improv
During the 12 weeks of the program, we spent 3 weeks on each of the four cornerstones. In the first week, we experienced the cornerstone as a client ourselves, thereby gaining a direct understanding of how the cornerstone could impact the lives of our future clients.
In the second week, we learned how to facilitate the cornerstone material in a structured format. Using worksheets and guided meditations, we had “guard rails” on the course content and deliver it in a relatively* linear manner.
In the third week of each cornerstone, we deepened our understanding by developing skills to coach in a more improvisational way. In the beginning as new coaches, we may feel more secure sticking to a structured format. However, as our coaching experience grows and clients present us with a unique blend of needs, improvisational coaching allowed us to adapt to the present moment and coach the cornerstones in a fluid and detached manner so we could meet the client where they are.
*Regardless of the amount of structure in a coaching session, the client is always in the driver’s seat, which therefore requires flexibility to flow with the client’s needs in the moment.
In addition to the E-Learning we focused on during each cornerstone, the practical part of the coaching certification came in the form of practice client coaching. Near the end of the coaching enrichment program, we had learned how to select our three practice clients who we’d be coaching throughout the certification.
Each client received eight coaching sessions over the 12-week period for a total of 24 practice coaching hours. Following each session, we took notes on our coaching experience in a log that would later be submitted as part of our final exam.
As with the enrichment program, we also joined weekly live webinars that included group sessions in which we could practice our coaching skills with our fellow coaches. These sessions proved to be invaluable in putting ourselves out there and receiving feedback on our coaching techniques.
Lastly, we each were assigned a cohort group of about a dozen fellow coaches and a mentor coach who we met with once a week. During these sessions, we would ask questions, share best practices, and learn from each other’s insights along the coaching journey.
Building the Cornerstones
While each cornerstone was unique, the structured learning provided a consistent framework in which to consume the information at a comfortable pace. As a Chopra student and instructor, I was comfortably familiar with the four principles at the heart of the Chopra Coaching model, however, I didn’t realize just how deep this material could go or how profound this learning truly was. In brief, the cornerstones consist of:
A profound, yet practical answer to the question, Why am I here? Through an in-depth exploration of purpose, dharma, archetypes, and legacy we learned to coach the client to build a purpose statement that resonates with them personally.
This deeper understanding of purpose serves as the client’s north star, helping them to keep their daily life aligned with the deeper calling of their highest self. A clear vision of purpose serves as the foundation upon which the remaining cornerstones are built.
Fueled by the soul question, What do I want?, this cornerstone dives into forming intentions, setting goals, and taking action to manifest our desires. Intention helps the client form their unique well-being vision and tap into the image of a life lived with full potential.
Clients learn powerful tools to form intentions aligned with their purpose, create a contingency plan for managing unexpected (and expected) obstacles, commit to their plans while letting go of attachment, and harness synchronicities as clues to universal guidance.
Personally, my favorite cornerstone, Meaning is a deep dive into the stories we have told ourselves over a lifetime and the interpretation we have given them to shape our reality.
In this cornerstone, we learn to infuse new meaning behind old stories—particularly the ones that limit our potential. The meaning-making process is one in which we explore a current challenge, identify the story we are telling ourselves about it, inquire as to the story’s truth or validity, find alternative interpretations, and ultimately, choose a new, more liberating meaning.
The final cornerstone delves into those aspects of ourselves that we judge—the parts we’ve rejected, disowned, and hidden from ourselves. By learning to own our shadow, we can return to wholeness and wellbeing, get out of our own way, be less reactive and triggered, and become more accepting and compassionate towards others.
Shadow work is a powerful process that helps us identify and examine our shadow and in so doing we liberate ourselves from its hold. While exploring the shadow can be challenging, bringing the hidden aspects of ourselves into the light is ultimately the key to our transformation.
A New Way of Being
As I continued my journey through the certification program, I felt a profound shift taking place. The process of experiencing the cornerstones, learning to coach them, and working with my practice clients was truly life-changing.
Although I had experienced Chopra teachings and certifications in the past, the coaching certification pulled all this knowledge together in a new way, providing a much deeper experience. This seemed to be a sentiment echoed by several of my fellow coaches in training. We were all experiencing a profound shift.
Perhaps it was brought on in part by the new community we were building; maybe it was due to harnessing the coaching tools of relationship, presence, listening, reflection, and questions in real-time with our clients; or possibly the profound learnings of the cornerstones, or the act of speaking a new “coaching language” – words and concepts like qualia, empathy fatigue, existential angst, self-regulation, interoceptive awareness, hedonic treadmill, meaning-making algorithm, and spiritual bypassing that “leveled up” my awareness in a way I hadn’t previously experienced. Regardless, the shift was real and deeply impactful.
I imagine it was my enjoyment of the coaching certification that made time seem to fly by. Before I knew it, 12 weeks had passed, and we were in the home stretch of preparing for our final exam. Although we technically had a full year to complete all our pre-work and practice coaching, I had found a rhythm and cadence for my studies that put me on track to be finished by late September 2021.
Shortly before the final exam section of the learning platform was unlocked in early October, I began reviewing my notes and re-watching the E-learning lessons so I would be prepared for the 85-question written exam, supplemented by my practice coaching log and a 30-minute video of one of my coaching sessions electronically submitted for review by a Chopra mentor coach.
By the end of October 2021, I had completed or submitted all my materials and passed my exams. I downloaded my Chopra Total Well-being Coach certificate with a huge sense of accomplishment and joy knowing that this experience represented not only a new doorway of possibilities opening for me, but a new way of being entirely.
Reflecting on this journey of awakening and service, I couldn’t help seeing the parallels between Chopra Coaching and the Bodhisattva’s Path. A Bodhisattva is a being dedicated to awakening and acting for the benefit of all sentient beings. This is truly what it means to be a Chopra Well-being Coach, or as the sixth-century sage Shantideva poetically reminds us:
May I be a guard for those who need protection
A guide for those on the path
A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood
May I be a lamp in the darkness
A resting place for the weary
A healing medicine for all who are sick
A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles
And for the boundless multitudes of living beings
May I bring sustenance and awakening
Enduring like the earth and sky
Until all beings are freed from sorrow
And all are awakened.
To all those who hear a similar calling of their soul, I can’t recommend the Chopra Well-being Coaching Certification Program highly enough. The instructors, the materials, the exercises, and the consciousness-shifting experience overall are unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I am grateful beyond words for the opportunity both to learn and the ability to share this transformative experience with others. Namaste.